A Chinese professor who was dismissed from his management position after writing social media posts that “critique social issues” has claimed that an academic rival reported him to the authorities, it has been reported, in a case that is fuelling fears over intellectual control by the ruling Communist Party.
Liang Xinsheng was removed from his position as deputy chair of the English department at Lingnan Normal University in Guangdong, the South China Morning Post reported on 13 November, although he still remains a professor.
The provinces’ anti-corruption watchdog said last week that Professor Liang’s online posts, made between 2012 and 2014 on the Weibo social networking site, had contained “radical opinions” and had been a “bad social influence”.
Further details of the case have been revealed by the China Digital Times, which reports that Chinese media have been ordered by government authorities not to “hype” the story and “remove it from the lead story position”.
According to a translation by the site, Professor Liang has released a statement explaining that his demotion had been triggered by an academic rival “reporting” his posts to the authorities.
“Dear friends: This is Liang Xinsheng. Don’t worry, I’m fine. This whole thing is because of competition for the position of departmental deputy chair,” Professor Liang wrote.
“After several failures, my rival for the post went nuts and retaliated by reporting some of my Weibo posts which critique social issues. I have always strived to be clean. I have my own demands and my own bottom line, and I know what kind of educator I am,” he explained.
Professor Liang’s demotion follows new party rules that allow it to discipline members for challenging government policies, and a wider climate of intellectual tightening since president Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.